chapter  7
Social Class and Religion
ByC. Margaret Hall
Pages 15

All too often the existence of direct associations between social class membership and religious affiliation is publicly denied, especially in the United States where equal opportunity and individualism are essential components of national ideologies (Finke & Stark, 1992; Kosmin & Lachman, 1993). Furthermore, public opinion mistakenly cherishes the idea that religions are pure and untainted by social concerns, and derive from divine sources. For example, young children are taught religious “truths” rather than the history or social contexts of religious belief systems. However, from both evolutionary and historical perspectives religions have been viewed, described, and explained as social products (Ashbrook, 1993; Finke & Stark, 1992; Smith, 1991). Furthermore, people can become freer of the effects of social class biases in religion if they understand at least some ways in which social classes and religions influence each other (Cornwall, 1987).